B. J. Ward
I told lots of stories when I was in grade school. Nowadays those stories would be referred to as… LIES.
It’s true I told Mrs. Jones’ fourth grade class — for show-and-tell, that my mother was a world- renowned swimmer who had crossed the English channel in record time. Imagine my chagrin, even mortification when my mother appeared in class a few days later and was quizzed about her daring exploits in the Channel! I was in trouble.
I always wanted life to be exciting, brighter, funnier, especially if it involved… ME. So naturally, I became an actress.
The Girl in The Fantasticks was my first New York off Broadway role. My favorite line in the script was, “Please God please, don’t let me be normal!” God forbid.
Smash cut to… years later, I find myself one of a handful of actors in Los Angeles who do animated voices for cartoons. I have voiced hundreds of them: Scarlett in “G.I. Joe,” Velma in “Scooby Doo,” Wonder Woman, Aunt Margaret in “Curious George,” and more.
I made a living with my voice, singing jingles and back-up for stars in Las Vegas. I wrote my own one woman show, Stand-Up Opera which toured the country for 12 years. Again I was telling stories, but this time stories about grand opera, and then singing the famous arias.
Married to director Gordon Hunt for many years I have the good fortune to have Helen Hunt for my stepdaughter. When she gave birth to her only girl, I was blessed to be the grandmother on duty. I read stories to her for years until I started making up stories of my own. I would staple my pages together and cut out magazine pictures to make it look more like a book. At four years old she said to me, “Bee, your stories are good but you need better pictures.” (Everyone’s a critic!)
Pictures? All I could draw was a bath. Helen was the one who suggested I send my stories to Steven Kellogg, who besides being a brilliant illustrator and story teller, was a dear family friend. He and his wife Helen Hill had known little Helen since her birth.
I sent Farty Marty to Steve and he liked it. He sent it to Paula Wiseman. She liked it. Steven put his magic pen to paper and Marty came alive. We worked on the book together and now here it is… Farty Marty. Dedicated to Makena Lei, my first audience, now nine years old.